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Language and Country

(Status : Public)
Coordinated by BlackWords Team
  • Introduction


    In Professor Anita Heiss's essay titled 'Writers on Country', she explains:

    "When contemporary Aboriginal authors talk of ‘a sense of place’ and ‘connections to country’, many do so in terms of the 21st century environments we live in with a focus on the reality that many are urban dwellers. It is estimated that one-fifth of the Indigenous Australian population lives in greater Sydney.

    While Aboriginal people live in cities, often away from our own traditional lands (many travel for work, education and relationships), it does not mean as individuals we are not aware of communal responsibilities for maintaining stories and knowledge of traditional areas and showing respect for custodians of country. It does not mean, either, that city- dwellers are ignorant of clan groups or language groups, or roles as owners and managers of country.

    Rather, what it means is that Aboriginal authors today are considering connections to country not only through familial lines, but connections also through the long political, social and other cultural associations to particular places."

    There are countless records in BlackWords that examine the meaning of Country, its importance, and languages tied to Country. A keyword search in BlackWords for Country retrieves over 1300 results, however country is deeply tied to storyteller's words and in their publications, it cannot necessarily be quantified by subject terms. It is recommended researchers read Anita Heiss' essay - Writers on Country - to gain a better understanding.

    For latest Native Title determinations, click here.

    (NB. Native title is an instrument of Australia's current legal structure and BlackWords respects that all land is considered under Native Title or the jurisdiction of the First Peoples of that area)

    This Exhibition provides very brief introductions to some countries and languages in Australia. Over time we will expand and develop these resources to more fully map the stories of this land. 

    For information on resources about language and country, see 2019 - International Year of Indigenous Languages exhibition.

    Readers are advised to explore resources available at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) website and the zoomable map of Indigenous Australia, developed as a part of the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia

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